Scottish Ballet celebrates 50th anniversary with packed programme

Scottish Ballet celebrates 50th anniversary with packed programme

Scotland's national ballet company has packed a lot into the past five decades, and the upcoming 50th anniversary year will see Scottish Ballet busier than ever

When Peter Darrell accepted an invitation to relocate his Bristol-based ballet company to Glasgow in 1969, he was committed to exploring new trends and ideas. Fifty years later, Darrell's forward-thinking philosophy is alive and well – as evidenced in Scottish Ballet's exciting and adventurous anniversary programme for 2019.

The spirit of collaboration, innovation and reaching out to new audiences that Darrell imbued in his company (known back then as Scottish Theatre Ballet) in '69 sits squarely at the heart of the 5-year plan current artistic director, Christopher Hampson has outlined.

At a recent 'sneak peek' at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, Hampson unveiled Helen Pickett's adaptation of The Crucible to an invited audience. Originally shown in 2014, as part of a double-bill, it started life as a shorter, more succinct piece that had its work cut out capturing all of Arthur Miller's characters and content in one act. I lamented in my review at the time 'If only the piece was two hours long, rather than 40 minutes, it would be a triumph'. Happy to say, it's now a full-length work that does Miller proud – and will get the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival off to a blazing start.

Scottish Ballet celebrates 50th anniversary with packed programme

But before that, the company will head north to launch its spring double bill – gifting the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness a rare world premiere in the form of Sophie Laplane's Dextera. A former dancer with Scottish Ballet, now the company's choreographer-in-residence, Laplane is a true talent on the rise. And if her previous work Sibilo is anything to go by, Dextera will be a treat – especially as it's sitting alongside Sir Kenneth MacMillan's gorgeously-costumed and witty Elite Syncopations.

After the success of its fascinating first digital season, Under the Skin in 2017, a journey into the unknown for both the company and audiences, it's great to see another one planned for 2019. A month-long programme of films, live streams and virtual reality experiences is on the way, including work by the company's first digital artist-in-residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom, helping us all see dance differently.

When Christmas comes around, however, it will be back to the large-scale, narrative ballets the company has forged its reputation on, with a brand new version of The Snow Queen from Hampson himself. And, given that the company is offering five lucky punters a 'wish come true' in 2019, now's the time to ask for a bit-part as a snowflake.